We are in a time of flux in US health care. There is a shift in the way providers are being paid to provide services. To this point health care providers have relied on quantity to pay the bills. The more patients you cared for and the more services those patients received drove how much reimbursement an entity or organization could expect to be paid.
Make no mistake, we still live in a volume environment but we are starting to feel the shift to value. Medicare, and some commercial payers, are penalizing hospitals and providers for poor quality. If outcomes are bad or readmissions occur hospitals get penalized. If patients get better but weren’t happy with the care they received, hospitals get penalized. When I say penalized, I mean hospitals get paid less money.
The change from volume to value is hard and it’s especially hard right now because the transition is occurring so do you devote resources to getting more patients or do you devote resources to keeping your patients away and focus on population health management. Health care is a weird business.
As health care providers our job is to help people get better. If no one is sick or injured, we don’t have jobs. Historically health care hasn’t focused on health, the focus has been on healing. If you’re well, you don’t heal. The focus is shifting to helping people be healthier which means the focus has to be on helping people understand how to be healthy.
The truth is, you don’t have to be sick to get better. Every one of us and every patient we see has the ability to get better. It doesn’t matter how healthy you are, you can get better. If you eat right, exercise regularly, avoid smoking and risky behavior you’re probably fairly healthy but that doesn’t mean you can stop doing those thing because once you do you are less healthy. We have a responsibility to not only help our patients get healthier but to help them understand what they can do to get even healthier.
The same is true of ourselves. We just finished our budget for the next fiscal year which begins April 1, 2015. We will spend around $6.4 million dollars next year on group health insurance almost $10,000 per FTE or $4.72 per hour for every staff member for each hour they work. That’s a lot of money.
Group health insurance is an important benefit but it’s a benefit we all own and it’s a cost we can control. The healthier we become the less we spend on group health insurance. Bad things happen and catastrophic illness and injuries can’t be avoided but most health conditions are controllable and the better controlled they are the less they cost to manage.
You don’t have to be sick to get better – it fits with our patients and it fits with each of us. We will never be able to eliminate group health cost but just think if we were able to reduce the $4.72 we spend per hour for each staff member by half that’s around $2.36. Who wouldn’t like a $2.36 per hour raise, I know I would, that’s almost $5,000 per year!
Just like with our patients, getting better means each of us will save money, feel better and have the potential for a longer more fulfilling life.
You don’t have to be sick to get better…but you do have to be motivated!